Hollywood's creativity problem and a (ranty) stroll through endless remakes...

Ryujin

Legend
Now see there is nothing wrong with a "Frame of Reference" if some one needs that : the problem is people getting stuck there. But it seems people don't have the ability to let go.

Star Wars was a great movie...but everyone does not need to copy off it forever. Tolkien wrote a good couple of books, but we don't need to copy them forever.

All Fantasy has to be Tolkien, all Space Adventure must be Star Wars, all heist stories must be "oceans" and so on.

That's the problem: Someone writes a cop plot, and without a thought just adds the same things over and over as they are stuck in there head. Plus everyone above that says "oh you have to add a new rookie cop and a old cop and" so on that is in EVERY other cop content.

It's a big Rut.
The presentation by streaming services doesn't really help with that, either. I was looking for something to watch, earlier today, and really wanted to watch something of a sort I wouldn't normally gravitate to. I quickly tired of all of the listings for movies that simply listed them as "X Meets Y." Dozens of them, in fact.
 

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Genres tend to get stale over time and need to be revitalized or shelved for a bit before someone has a new approach. I think the best ones build on what came before while having a kind of conversation with the prior material. An example that always leaps to mind for me is Dirty Harry (which didn't exist in a vacuum and was breaking new ground when it came out) and Lethal Weapon (which owes a tremendous amount to Dirty Harry, even has a scene that is clearly an homage to it, but also added to the conversation within the genre).
The problem I see is that people can't let go. It's fine to make a tribute or homage.....but when it's everything it's a bit much.

It's fine to make a cop movie and think "oh all them other cop movies were nice" and then just LEAVE all of that alone and make something new.

It's already bad enough when they know and say "We are coping x". It's a million times worse when they copy X subconsciously without knowing it as it's stuck in their brain.
 

Hussar

Legend
All art is copying though. Nothing has been truly original in thousands of years. Good grief, the ancient Greeks complained about this thousands of years ago.

It’s not like this is a new issue.

With movies and other mass media, there’s the additional issue of how easy it is to consume vast amounts of genre fiction.

In the 70’s, there was a very hard limit to how many fantasy movies you could see in a given year. No vcr’s, only a few channels on the tv and movie theatres. That was it.

Now, every single movie/tv show is immediately viewable repeatedly world wide. It’s so over saturated.

It makes formulaic plots really visible.

It’s also why we’re seeing a real push towards non-English language movies. Korean dramas, Bollywood, that sort of stuff.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Now see there is nothing wrong with a "Frame of Reference" if some one needs that : the problem is people getting stuck there. But it seems people don't have the ability to let go.

And other people get kind of cherry-picky...

All Fantasy has to be Tolkien, all Space Adventure must be Star Wars, all heist stories must be "oceans" and so on.

Conan, Star Trek, Inception...
Maybe not all fantasy is Tolkien, not all Space Adventure is Star Wars, and not all Heist stories are Oceans.

Plus everyone above that says "oh you have to add a new rookie cop and a old cop and" so on that is in EVERY other cop content.

Have you considered that form has purpose and utility?

Having that pairing makes exposition to the TV audience a lot easier. An experienced cop can spend time explaining things to the inexperiencd one, so the audience understands. Between two experienced officers, that same discussion would be, "Joe, what, do you think I was born yesterday, that you need to explain it to me?"

Also, the mentor/apprentice dynamic a pretty natural one in human experience. And that pairing allows easier introduction of different generational points of view.

And so on. It is used a lot not just because it was done before - but because it also works. That's a thing about cliches - they are what they are because there is actually something to them.
 

All art is copying though. Nothing has been truly original in thousands of years. Good grief, the ancient Greeks complained about this thousands of years ago.

It’s not like this is a new issue.
But you can be aware of the ton of media AND then choose not to copy it. You don't HAVE to say "wow, my space war will be just like Star Wars!" You don't have to make a horror movie with 12 targets and one gets killed every 10 minutes with a jump scare. And so on.


With movies and other mass media, there’s the additional issue of how easy it is to consume vast amounts of genre fiction.

In the 70’s, there was a very hard limit to how many fantasy movies you could see in a given year. No vcr’s, only a few channels on the tv and movie theatres. That was it.

Now, every single movie/tv show is immediately viewable repeatedly world wide. It’s so over saturated.

It makes formulaic plots really visible.

It’s also why we’re seeing a real push towards non-English language movies. Korean dramas, Bollywood, that sort of stuff.
I was there. Before 2000 getting a hold of lots of media was at least a chore...and a lot was near impossible. Today, it's all too easy.

But still, just as you have seen all the media, does not mean you have to use it like a zombie.
 

The problem I see is that people can't let go. It's fine to make a tribute or homage.....but when it's everything it's a bit much.

It's fine to make a cop movie and think "oh all them other cop movies were nice" and then just LEAVE all of that alone and make something new.

It's already bad enough when they know and say "We are coping x". It's a million times worse when they copy X subconsciously without knowing it as it's stuck in their brain.

I do think there is a tendency to repeat what has been successful before and that can be a problem (even if the successful thing was good). But my feelings here are a bit mixed and I am going to think aloud to try to get to some kind of point.

I personally don't have an issue with genre. Buddy cop movies are a genre. Like all genres the tropes can get stale (at least for a while). You need fresh eyes to revitalize genres, but you also need the genre elements that make them what they are. It is a very tricky balance. Also something can be tropey and cliche but still be well written and acted, so if the quality is there it can still be very entertaining. I watch a lot of kung fu and wuxia movies and you see that pattern frequently of revitalization of the genre because of a new idea or approach, followed by that becoming the way its done, then becoming old hat, and finally being replaced by a fresher take. I think to do that though you need a healthy media landscape. Also some genres don't last forever. When I was a kid westerns were pretty much going out and while there have been westerns since, they are no where near their heyday in terms of cultural impact and prevalence. Maybe buddy cop movies have a shorter shelf life. Also I do think while genres are fun and entertaining, the ideal situation is people aren't just redoing old genres but things are varied enough that new genres are emerging or wildly different approaches to existing genres can emerge.

But I think for me a bigger issue is just the constant redoing of existing IP. What keeps me away from theaters these days is that I don't really connect with the style of film making or genres like supers, but most of all its the retreading of old franchises. I wouldn't mind more science fiction movies. I love science fiction, but I don't need to see more star wars films or shows. I'd be open to more space opera, but to your point I also would really like to see science fiction films that surprise me. Ex Machina genuinely surprised me when I saw it. I liked Star Trek, I liked the Next Generation, and I love Babylon 5. But I did not need 18 versions of star trek (Next Generation and original series were more than enough for me).
 

Hussar

Legend
I’ll see your Star Trek and raise you an Expanse.

Again we’re not really comparing apples to apples here. At the time when TNG and Bab 5 were being broadcast, there might have been three other SF shows on tv. Maybe.

Now? There’s probably a couple of dozen new sf series starting just this year.

Fantasy? What fantasy was there in tv in the 80’s? A handful of fantasy movies and that’s about it. Maybe one per year unless you include Disney. And most of the 80’s fantasy movies were spectacularly bad.

Richard Moll in Dungeonmaster is one of my guilty favourites. I do love me crap movies.
 


Again we’re not really comparing apples to apples here. At the time when TNG and Bab 5 were being broadcast, there might have been three other SF shows on tv. Maybe.

I'm sure streaming changes the volume a lot. But I would be interested in the tally on this as some shows from the 90s might have been forgotten. Depending on how you define sci-fi, I remember there being shows like quantum leap, alien nation, the x-files, sliders, sea quest, farscape, deep space nine, voyager, etc. Plus you had shows like Highlander, Xena, etc (not science fiction but genres gamers often enjoy). And googling 'forgotten 90s sci-fi' brings up this list.
 

Hussar

Legend
But now you’ve switched decades. Bab 5 and TNG are 80’s.

In any case do you really think there were equal numbers of genre shows on in the 90’s compared to now? Seriously?
 


In any case do you really think there were equal numbers of genre shows on in the 90’s compared to now? Seriously?
I didn’t say that. I just don’t know it’s the case for sure that there are more sci fi series now than the 90s. I said I would be interested in doing a tally to know the numbers for sure. If you look at the list of forgotten 90s science fiction, it is pretty striking how many there are no one talks about anymore. If you go to IMDB or the 90s science fiction series Wikipedia page, there are quite a few. If we are going to talk about numbers, actually getting some data would be useful. You may well be correct but there is no harm in verifying the assumption
 


But you can be aware of the ton of media AND then choose not to copy it. You don't HAVE to say "wow, my space war will be just like Star Wars!" You don't have to make a horror movie with 12 targets and one gets killed every 10 minutes with a jump scare. And so on.

I don't have much of a problem with there being tons of star wars inspired media. Genres are going to exist. But I think what troubles me is it feels like our menu options are more limited when it comes to big releases. I love genre movies so I can't complain if a genre gets some traction (I do think there are better and worse ways to handle genre but some of what makes a genre a genre is repeating the elements that work).

On horror movies I am probably in a similar place to you. I have to admit current horror often doesn't do it for me lately. I don't think it is necessarily an issue with the movies themselves, but I just grew up on slower building of pace, of being afraid of different things, etc. I don't mind jumpscares (Exorcist III has a great jump scare that stands out and stands the test of time IMO). But some of the techniques in current horror movies don't have as much of an effect on me. I just enjoy older horror movies more.

I was following a conversation a couple of years ago about how a lot of people don't find the exorcist scary anymore, because newer movies are thought to be more immersive and edgy. But watching it again recently and re-reading the book recently my view is what made the movie scary was that was shot very matter of fact, so that you felt like you were in the waiting room at the doctor's when Regan was getting all those tests done, and by the time the supernatural elements kick in, you fully accept the reality of it because you have already accepted the reality of the medical tests (and the medical tests themselves are part of what make the movie so unnerving). Incidentally if you are bored with current horror movies and need viewing recommendations, I highly suggest doing the "Faith Trilogy", where you treat the Exorcist, The Ninth Configuration and the Exorcist III as a trilogy (just know that The Ninth Configuration is truly strange).

I was there. Before 2000 getting a hold of lots of media was at least a chore...and a lot was near impossible. Today, it's all too easy.

But still, just as you have seen all the media, does not mean you have to use it like a zombie.

It was harder for sure. In some ways the ease of viewing media today and the way shows are made for binge watching does sometimes make you feel like you've eaten too much chocolate cake. Whereas when you had to go to blockbuster, sun coast, or some obscure place that sold niche movies back in the day then bring home the video tape or DVD (sometimes even other formats), there was a physical difference in how the media was viewed (also I know I tended to form more of a mental memory with music and movies where I had a physical copy versus a digital one). I also remember rewatching movies more. Whereas now can be easy to blaze through them and barely remember.

All that said though, the streaming landscape has changed a lot. It is much harder now for me to find the movies I want to watch on a streaming service than it was eight years ago.

I have a pretty big DVD collection though and I will say that can start to have the same effect as streaming a bunch of stuff (I find though I have my favorites that I go back to regularly).
 

MGibster

Legend
antasy? What fantasy was there in tv in the 80’s? A handful of fantasy movies and that’s about it. Maybe one per year unless you include Disney. And most of the 80’s fantasy movies were spectacularly bad.
Aside from cartoons, the only one that pops into my head immediately is the sitcom The Charmings, but a quick search also shows one called Wizards and Warriors from 1983. So obviously you are incorrect and there were plenty of....okay, I'm being told by my wife that I'm just being a pedantic #%$, if anything, I'm simply making your argument for you. You're right, there wasn't a lot in the way of fantasy television shows, but there were plenty of fantasy movies even if an awful lot of them went straight to video. I will fully admit that not all of the movies came to mind immediately, but I saw them all. I also tried to narrowly define fantasy, for exampel I didn't add The Ewok Adventure which is on some lists. The 1980s were a great time for fantasy movies, but the 1990s was a good time for fantasy television. At least in syndication with shows like Hercules and Xena.

Willow
Excaliber
Legend
Dragonslayer
The Dark Crystal
Time Bandits
Ladyhawke
Krull
Clash of the Titans
Red Sonja
Conan
Baron Munchausen
Beastmaster
The Black Cauldren
The Little Mermaid
The Neverending Story
Labyrinth
The Last Unicorn
Hercules
 

Aside from cartoons, the only one that pops into my head immediately is the sitcom The Charmings, but a quick search also shows one called Wizards and Warriors from 1983. So obviously you are incorrect and there were plenty of....okay, I'm being told by my wife that I'm just being a pedantic #%$, if anything, I'm simply making your argument for you. You're right, there wasn't a lot in the way of fantasy television shows, but there were plenty of fantasy movies even if an awful lot of them went straight to video. I will fully admit that not all of the movies came to mind immediately, but I saw them all. I also tried to narrowly define fantasy, for exampel I didn't add The Ewok Adventure which is on some lists. The 1980s were a great time for fantasy movies, but the 1990s was a good time for fantasy television. At least in syndication with shows like Hercules and Xena.

Willow
Excaliber
Legend
Dragonslayer
The Dark Crystal
Time Bandits
Ladyhawke
Krull
Clash of the Titans
Red Sonja
Conan
Baron Munchausen
Beastmaster
The Black Cauldren
The Little Mermaid
The Neverending Story
Labyrinth
The Last Unicorn
Hercules

Conan the Barbarian and the Destroyer as well (unfortunately also Red Sonja). Also Yor, Clash of the Titans, Deathstalker (terrible movies but there were a bunch of them), Fire and Ice, Princess Bride, etc.

I have to say my favorites from that period were Excalibur (watched this so many times), Conan the Barbarian (definitely my number one pick), and Dragonslayer.

This list is a little odd as it includes things like Ghostbusters (so clearly a very broad definition of fantasy but it is probably could as a place to start to see just how much fantasy we actually had in the 80s). I remember quite a number of straight to video: List of fantasy films of the 1980s - Wikipedia
 

Genres are going to exist.
The real problem is too many creators narrow a whole genre down to only a couple things.

When someone goes to write a movie about any topic, genre, setting or whatever you only get three basic choices:
1.Do real research and then use that real knowledge as a base to write your movie
2.Watch the other "popular" movies that fit, and use that as your base to write from.
3.Just 100% make things up from scratch.

Now, each has good and bad parts: none are the "perfect" way to make a "perfect" movie. Though doing research and making stuff up are both hard....and both can often still be hard for people that are already good at research and making things up. Both can be next to impossible for even "good" writers. And impossible for any others. A "good" writer can take real facts, real fiction, and stuff they make up to create unique content. Though it takes time and effort...and it's all too easy to let things slide. And the copying of other movies makes things easy.

Of course the not so good writer is already only doing "research" by watching the couple of popular movies and then just copying from them.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
90's was reasonably good for sci Fi peak TNG, DS9 was good, Babylon 5, Stargate SG1 and Farscape that's just the food ones. Hell better than last decade there's been about 2-3 good shows (Expanse, Continuum maybe Orphan Black counts?). Sy Finchannelvwas actual sci fi.

80's had a comparative abundance of fantasy movies.
 


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